3 minute read


  1. Planning ahead
  2. Simplifying
  3. Writing Down


Planning ahead

Christmas can be a stressful time of the year. To alleviate some of that, organized families plan ahead. In a previous podcast, the Mitchells talked about assigning every dollar a job, so if money is set aside each month for Christmas all year long, then it’s not a shock to try to fit all the expenses into one-month paycheck.

Some banks have Christmas accounts that you can deposit money into each month throughout the year. It can be set up as a direct deposit right out of each paycheck.

But if money has been saved all year, then you can shop anytime. Set a budget and try to stay in it.


Don’t feel like you owe everyone a present. Simplify your list. Cards for acquaintances so they know you were thinking about them, gifts for close family and friends. Make homemade gifts like jelly or caramel gift that has love mixed in it.

Also simplify family members, possibly draw names, so you have the opportunity to give something to each member over the years. Around Thanksgiving, someone can send out a list to remind all the family members who they are buying for that year.

Another way the Mitchells have simplified gift buying within their family is that they only buy three presents for each of their own children. The reasoning is that when Christ was born, He received three gifts, and that’s one more way to focus on Christ during the holidays. Gold = want. Frankincense = need. Myrrh = meaningful. It took them about two to three years to transition from full blown gifts to this simplified three gift tradition. They like it because when kids know they are only receiving one gift they want and one gift they need, etc., then they really evaluate what’s most important to them that year instead of asking for it all. The meaningful gift comes from the parents with a lot of thought. One year it was a book from a summer vacation. Other years it was a pass to local area entertainments which got them in free to pools, and parks and movies, so that gift came with a year full of memories and experiences. So meaningful! Another year the family had set a goal to do more camping, so the kids received camping gear. Meaningful gifts do require a little more effort.

Idea for grandparents: maybe buy experiences instead of stuff like swimming lessons or skiing lessons or pass to the local zoo or museum. Those gifts come with memories and time together.

Write It Down

Sometimes it’s hard to remember what has been purchased when shopping is done over several months. Other times shopping is done all in one day, and Mom is getting home right when kids are getting home from school so she has to quickly hide everything in a closet or under the bed. It’s hard to remember what all has been bought for each person, so Amy writes it down in a book. When she sees it on paper, Amy has a better idea of where she stands on her Christmas shopping. Amy tracks how much is spent each year in that book. That book also helps remember who they bought for each year, so they know who the rotated family name is the following year if someone forgets.

The first half of that book helps Amy track what gifts she has bought for whom every year. The back half of that book tracks who they have received gifts from so when it comes time to write thank yous, they can specifically remember who gave them what.

Each year is different though. Some years the Mitchells seem to be better prepared than others, all depending on what other things they are juggling.

The Mitchells also encourage their children to buy gifts for others, like siblings, best friends, teachers…

An organized family can enjoy the holiday season more if they plan ahead, simplify and track their purchases. Merry Christmas!

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  1. the aftermath, by frankieleon. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/